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Active learning in remote teaching contexts

Education & Research Simulation Technology

The year 2020 will be marked by the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Teaching activities were among the most impacted, with a forced acceleration in the process of virtualization and digitization of courses. Many professors were forced to migrate their classes to remote virtual teaching environments overnight. Labs, application projects, and group work had to be completely reconsidered. 

If, on one hand, the pandemic forced these changes, it also brought important advances. Two professors from FEI University Center, in São Bernardo do Campo, for example, conducted pedagogical experiments in remote teaching, using tools and activities where, more than spectators, the students were the leading characters of the virtual classes.

Gamification and storytelling supporting remote learning materials

Increasingly, computer simulation-based learning resources are being used in universities around the world. Especially in remote teaching, these pedagogical resources are an important aid to engage students and support learning in various topics and levels of the engineering curriculum. In this context, FEI professors Patricia Schmid Calvão and Júlio César Dutra brought together gamification, transmedia, and storytelling with the GRANTA EduPack tool, a set of resources for teaching materials, to enrich their virtual activities.

“Us teachers have to step out of our comfort zone and create new opportunities to enhance learning, venturing into other platforms to strengthen the relationship with students.” Dr. Júlio César Dutra, Professor – FEI

In the first experiment, students created a series of games using gamification strategies consisting of questions and answers about the content explored in class. At each stage, the challenge levels were increased in games with themes such as RPG and detective. This interactive format innovated in the assessment, developing engineering concepts in a contextualized way, provoking creativity through active student participation.


Jogo “Um caso materialístico”, criado durante o experimento de ensino remoto.

“A materialistic case” game, created during the remote teaching experiment. Image translation: Question 1/7: Through the obtained diffractogram, what kind of material corresponds to the image? Metallic | Ceramic | Polymeric.

As a result, it was possible to communicate with the students in a more informal language, offering new learning experiences. The activity was part of the teaching plan for the subject Structure of Materials. A subsequent survey showed a high level of approval of these kinds of resources by the participating students.

The second experiment, entitled “Materials Challenge”, brought to class the universe of superheroes, in activities based on transmedia and storytelling. Based on famous languages and stories and using the social networks Facebook and YouTube, the students initially produced and adapted new stories based on a superhero chosen taking into account the Properties of Materials.

Vídeo produzido pelos alunos e postado no grupo da atividade no Facebook.

Video produced by the students and posted in the activity’s Facebook group. Translation: Thor and his hammer – impact resistance. 

In the second stage, they used the GRANTA EduPack tool to maximize or minimize the material ratios and properties chosen for their superhero. Finally, in a third stage, the superheroes had to face villains who exploited weaknesses in a given set of properties. The students had to evaluate whether their superhero could stand up to them. The project integrated the disciplines Metallic Materials and Polymeric Materials of the Mechanical Engineering course at FEI, increasing the immersion and promoting continuous interest, with a very positive response from the students.

A ferramenta GRANTA EduPack foi utilizada pelos alunos para o estudo de materiais.

The GRANTA EduPack tool was used by the students to study materials.

“Using new tools helps us to maintain students’ attention, one of the big challenges today. GRANTA EduPack was very interesting in this sense, bringing interesting and interactive content to keep the student motivated.” Dr. Patricia Schmid Calvão, Professor – FEI

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